As I sit on a bench looking out at Lake Washington, my thoughts are scattered. I think about my past. The relationships I’ve had and the things I could have done to change the outcome, but I also think about my future. Starting a new job and finding ways to push myself to become who I want to be.
It’s interesting though, that even when we are physically present, we can be living in a different time in our mind. Whether in the past, replaying memories; or in the future, planning our next steps to success. Yet living in the past or the future, can prevent us from truly experiencing the present moment we are in.
It is true that reflecting on the past can be beneficial, helping us learn from both our mistakes and success’. But reflection is merely a visit to the past. It is when we are living in the past that it can become dangerous. Maybe we are living in the past because we believe we have already had our best moments and that the future can’t compare. Or we have regrets. Things we wish we could change. So we replay the situation over and over trying to change the unchangeable.
Yet we mustn’t get stuck living in the past. Memories, often times, are distorted. The further we go back into our memory the hazier our memories become, making it difficult for us to see those moments, whether good or bad, without bias. As they truly were. We tend to either remove all the negative and see only the positive, or remove all the positive and see only the negative. Neither interpretation which is accurate. We need to learn to leave the past in the past, where it belongs. What is done is done. By living in the past, we are preventing ourselves from moving forward, holding us at a standstill. Just like a train stuck at the platform, we aren’t reaching our full potential.
However, living in the future is no better. Where we are always concerned about the next step. Our next career goal, who we want to marry, what age we want to have kids, where we want to live. These are all good things to think about and aspire to, yet sometimes we get carried away. We think once we reach a certain point in the future we will be happy. Once we have this job, we’ll be happy. Once we’re married, we’ll be happy. But once again this kind of thinking just steals away from our present sense of peace and contentment. Because we are always looking ahead; to what is just beyond our grasp. This anxious, goal driven mentality creates a cycle where we are never satisfied with the present and are always looking to the future to make us happy.
So I’m going to stop letting the past have power over my present and stop borrowing troubles from tomorrow. Because in this very moment I have so much to be grateful for. The liquid movement of my pen, the sound of the waves lapping the shore, the seagulls flying around calling to their friends, the fresh air tickling my lungs, and the sunlight warming my face.
I would encourage you to start letting go of your past and stop trying so hard to control your future. Live in the moment. Right here. Right now. Be present where you are. Because this very moment is where you are. Embrace it. 🙂
The past is the past and the future is the future. But I am going to be present. I’m going to live in the moment.